Heartland Conference to go with basketball playoffs
Basketball fans, mark your calendars.
Unless something goes drastically wrong, the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference (PHAC) will step into the world of basketball championship tournaments this season.
Plans are in place for the PHAC to do like the Schuylkill League has done very successfully for decades at Pottsville's Martz Hall.
In an e-mail sent out Tuesday afternoon, Mount Carmel Area athletic director Greg Sacavage, a member of the PHAC basketball committee, listed Wednesday, Feb. 13, and Thursday, Feb. 14, as semifinal days for the girls and boys, respectively, with both championship games slated for Saturday, Feb. 16.
All games, at least as planned now, will be contested at the Nelson Field House on the campus of Bloomsburg University.
The final decision to move forward with the tournament was based, at least partially, on the success, both financially and competitively, of the PHAC track and field championships contested for the first time last spring. Sacavage said that event generated approximately $5,000 in revenue for the league.
Before that, a league tournament seemed a non-starter.
"We made a proposal years ago, and it was shot down," Sacavage said when contacted Tuesday afternoon. "It was always a dead issue."
The tournaments, as designed, will be four-team events, with the three Heartland division champions along with a wild card competing in both boys and girls basketball.
"The Schuylkill League tournament is a great show, and it (financially) supplements the league," Sacavage said. "It would be less money the schools would have to pay into the PHAC."
Sacavage stressed that the initial tournament will be competed on a trial basis, with the level of success or failure going a long way toward the final decision to make it an annual event.
"It's going to be tried this year," Sacavage said. "It's an experiment, a trial.
"And it's about money, to be honest. The key was securing Bloomsburg University. It's a great gym, has lots of parking and it's centrally located. If it goes well this year, it will continue."
Sacavage said he feels the track and field league meet, along with the basketball tournaments, are moves in the right direction.
"The PHAC has to begin showcasing what we have," Sacavage said.
Shamokin Area athletic director Rick Kashner, like Sacavage a member of the PHAC basketball committee, sees the event as a positive step as well.
"We're going to try it this year and see how it goes," Kashner said Tuesday. "I'm looking forward to it.
"Not everybody is for it, but I think it will be a success."